Yes: I’m also judging myself right now. Oh cheesecakes, what have I gotten myself into? How to type this review without face-palming?
5 Red Warning Signs That I will not Like a book
1. Heroines with zero confidence. In YA, there’s a term especially coined for female protagonists who are suffering from low self-esteem and are excruciatingly annoying because of their mediocrity and blandness: TSTL ( Too-Stupid-To-Live ) Girls aka the damsels in distress. America Singer, our heroine is far from a full-fledged TSTL character but ugh, she keeps on saying things like ‘I’m mediocre’, ‘I’m nothing special’, ‘I’m average’ throughout the book as if she wouldn’t stop until she’s used up all possible synonyms associated with Inferiority Complex. Which is a contradiction, I must say, because America is neither of these things, at least in my opinion. She’s awfully honest but likable enough to socialize and be cordial, has a spunky personality befitting of her being a redhead, and a bangin’ sense of humor. Also, she’s no pushover and even had her shining moments of assertiveness here and there. So why, America, why?!
2. Cheesier-than-thou Dialogues. There’s no way in the world this book is gonna win the Pulitzer Prize. This, I can wager my life on, surely. And yeah: I don’t exactly feel like my vocabulary has been enriched in any way whatsoever. The narrative didn’t have me seething in literary envy, unsurprisingly. No grammatical acrobatics, no maddening impulse to jot down quotes because there’s nothing much quotable anyway. Romance in YA can get really cringe-inducing sappy sometimes and this book is guilty as charged more than once.
Case in point:
3. Awkward character names. Yes, I’m totally nitpicking the hell out of the most juvenile of details, but you know there’s some sorcery going on when our heroine’s mom is named Magda, while her ex-boyfriend’s mom is named Lena. As in Magda and Lena. Well hello there, subtlety. And I’m totally cool with names like Aspen and Maxon but why does our heroine’s name had to be America? And why does half of the characters have outlandish names while the other half have generic ones? I mean, come on book. Make up your mind.
4. Haphazard World-building. I have so many questions about the setting of this book but not even a half of them were answered, which shouldn’t be the case at all, considering this should be the introduction to our trilogy. What year is it exactly? What’s the historical background of the Selection Background? What exactly are the northern-southern rebellions about? It was all so vague. True, the book made several attempts to touch on the actual details of Ilea’s History and some of the inner workings of the palace policies, even a glimpse of a state visit of guest international monarchs but it felt like the plot focused too much on the caste system of its society that it overshadowed everything else. Gotta admit with most critics that this is very much ‘The Bachelor-esque’.
5. Clichés, Clichés, everywhere. It is no disclaimer I guess to say that there really isn’t any plot twist that will make you drop the book from shock but boy did I turned pages like I’m chasing some imaginary deadline. The thing about clichés is that they’re easy and light to read and therefore wouldn’t require any kind of long pauses in between. It’s pretty much a come-and-go experience, but surprisingly, this didn’t affect my eagerness to finish it because, well, generally, I also have:
5 REASONS WHY I NEED FLUFF IN MY LIFE
1. Predictability sometimes means Cozy. It’s a legit literary anomaly: Some shallow books can be potentially addictive for no apparent reason at all other than that it’s comfortable. We know what we want to happen and we know at the same time that it’s gonna happen. That’s how shallow books work, I guess. Who am I kidding, I know I bought this book with no expectations at all so technically, it met all my expectations in that sense. See what I did there?
2. Because we need Love Triangles so that we can pick who we want to ship with the
heroine OURSELVES. Can I just say how much I appreciate that Prince Maxon isn’t channeling any ‘Edward-Cullen-esque’ style of dating? Can I just take a moment to pretend that I’m a lunatic teenager and say ZOMGAH PRINCE MAXON FTW! ❤ ❤ ❤ (Cue: Reviewer reputation shattering into a million shards.)
3. Because shallow books are the fastest routes to fantasylandia. We may not exactly adore the heroine, but dang , what will we not give to be in her shoes, right? And besides, how closer can you get at the ultimate epitome of romantic imaginations than making a literal prince fall for you? Also: Kissing scenes.
4. Because like desserts, Fluff is like guilty pleasures in reading. Serious-themed books can get really stressful at times and reading light materials is like reminding ourselves to take a breather, relax and enjoy reading again for what it is.
5. Because sustaining our illusions of happy-ever-afters feels good, sometimes. Okay, maybe not so much after finishing the story and coming back to reality but heck—it’s refreshing and fun once in a while to discard my jaded cranky-pants in exchange of cotton-candy pink dresses, palaces, fluttery, lace, first kisses and ahhhh, tiaras!